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Winter of 2014-15: Brutal predictions make many consider a new fireplace

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It's an old adage that people will always talk about the weather. With weather patterns changing and severe conditions in many states, people have had really good reasons to talk about it (of course, the last half of that adage applies, too: "But who's going to do something about it?")

We've got drought in California and too much rain in the East. Hurricanes hitting Hawaii and tornadoes in Tennessee. We've seen news reports about mudslides and forest fires.

However, it's the especially brutal winter of 2013-4 that had tongues wagging. Stories abound of construction workers taking breaks from working in -30 or -40 degree wind chill conditions to thaw their fingers and toes before going back for more. School districts in many parts of the country experienced more cancellation days than at any time in their histories. Only the men in the snowplows were happy -- but even they were screaming "Uncle!" by March.

And it looks like we could have another doozy. Here comes the winter of 2014-5, which forecasters predict might be every bit as chilly and grueling.

There is a chance, according to a recent story in The Washington Post, that this winter’s El Niño could be a "Modoki version," which is colder and snowier than normal.

Though we often hear of people dying in extreme summer heat, winter cold kills more than twice as many Americans as does summer heat, says a report issued by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On average, about 2,000 U.S. residents die each year from weather-related causes of death. The CDC report found that 63 percent of these deaths were attributed to exposure to excessive natural cold, hypothermia, or both., while a lower 31 percent of these deaths were attributed to exposure to excessive natural heat.

In addition to making sure their furnaces and heating systems are in tip top condition, many people are choosing to install secondary sources of warmth. Gas fireplaces, for instance, are popular throughout the country.

Fireplaces are friends to fingers and toes -- and everything in-between. And gas fireplaces boast a number of advantages, from constant heat to energy savings (as much as 25 percent) to environmental friendliness (many places have banned wood burning units). And, in addition to avoiding both ash and creosote, a gas fireplace can be turned on and off with the flip of a switch.

That's why companies like Croft Sales & Service, a leading provider of solutions for people seeking new or upgraded fireplaces, have seen increasing numbers of customers in showrooms. This Utah firm's experience matches reports from other parts of the country: people are dreading the winter ahead and thinking a fireplace just might add some welcome warmth.

To learn more about the cool resources Croft Sales & Service have in store to keep you warm this winter, check out their official website here.